pregnant woman rubbing her feet
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Swollen feet during pregnancy

Women never want to look down and see that their feet are pouring out of super cute shoes, but unfortunately, swollen feet are a very common symptom of pregnancy.


The main cause of swollen feet is a buildup of fluid in bodily tissue from water retention. Swelling is also a result of increased pressure on your blood vessels from your expanding uterus that restricts flow, meaning it takes longer to circulate blood away from your extremities. Poor circulation will frequently contribute to swelling, but there are other factors out of your control that can lead to swollen feet, and certain times of the day, year, or pregnancy, like:

  • Evenings: Blood pools in your feet throughout the day, so the swelling will be worse around nighttime.
  • Summer: You retain more fluid in warmer weather, so try to stay cool so you don’t increase the chances of swelling.
  • Third trimester: This the time when your uterus is largest, so the pressure on your veins will be especially high.

Fighting the swell

Even though swollen feet can be a huge annoyance, there are definitely some ways for moms-to-be to get some relief:

  • Wear comfortable shoes: Don’t try to squish your feet into shoes that don’t fit, since a tight squeeze will only worsen the bloat.
  • Stretch often: Stretching improves your circulation and reduces cramps so that fluid doesn’t build up in your tissues for too long.
  • Take breaks from sitting or standing: Try to put your feet up as much as possible to increase the blood flow away from the lower half of your body.
  • Drink water: You probably think that the last thing you want to do to minimize fluid retention is guzzle down more, but flushing out your system with 8-10 glasses of water a day can actually eliminate waste products that exacerbate swelling.

It’s often hard to tell which levels of swelling are normal and when you should be concerned, but if you think that you have severe or rapid swelling in your feet, it could be a sign of preeclampsia. And if one is significantly more swollen than the other, it could indicate a blood clot, so you should let your healthcare provider know.

The good news is that your body will eliminate the excess fluid that causes swelling shortly after delivery, so you can say goodbye to those puffy feet and hello again to sandals!

Reviewed by Dr. Jamie Lo
Read more
  • N A Segal, E R Boyer, P Teran-Yangle, N Glass, H Hillstrom, H John Yack. “Pregnancy Leads to Lasting Changes in Foot Structure.” American Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation. 92(3): 232-240. Web. 3/13/2015.
  • Roger W. Harms, M.D. “What causes ankle swelling during pregnancy – and what can I do about it?” Mayo Clinic. Mayo Clinic, 8/5/2014. Web.
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